Harrison approves zoning amendment for school bus depot
Highlands School District’s new bus company will be able to keep its depot in Harrison right where it is.
Harrison commissioners approved amending the township’s zoning ordinance to allow a school bus depot in the S-1 Special zoning district. That includes the property on Springhill Road where ABC Transit set up operations to serve Highlands.
No one spoke during a public hearing Monday on amending the zoning ordinance.
Highlands in May approved a five-year contract with ABC Transit, replacing W.L. Roenigk as the district’s student transportation contractor. The contract requires the company to have a physical presence in the school district.
The company is leasing with an option to buy 16 acres of 48 acres off Springhill Road belonging to John Marino, owner of Heights Plaza Materials, a slag aggregate processing facility.
To continue operating there, ABC Transit will have to put up a building there within a year, commissioners President William Heasley said.
Under the amendment, the building has to be large enough to enclose bus maintenance and cleaning and to provide offices and restrooms.
Representatives of ABC Transit previously said the company would use temporary offices while setting up for the 2019-20 school year, and its long-range intention was to build there.
A representative of ABC Transit could not be reached for comment.
If a building is not under construction at the end of one year, the zoning approval will expire and all school buses will have to be removed from the lot within 30 days. Commissioners can extend the one-year period if good cause for the delay is shown.
Other criteria to allow a school bus depot in an S-1 area are:
• The lot has to abut Freeport or Springhill roads, which will be the only access to the site for buses.
• The lot does not abut any property zoned for residential — R-1, R-2 and R-3 — or village.
• A traffic study is provided and measures to address traffic hazards or deterioration of existing conditions are implemented.
• Before operating any bus fueling facilities, township first responders will be given a chance to inspect the site and become familiarized with it.
• School bus routing will avoid sending empty buses, leaving or returning to the depot, along township roads designed to provide access to abutting properties in residential areas.
Also, parking requirements are amended to require a parking space for each bus plus one space for each driver or other employee who works at the depot. A paved or other hard and dust-free surface is required for all parked vehicles, with a paved surface required once the building is occupied.
School bus depots are also permitted in the township’s M-1 and M-2 manufacturing districts.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .